by Rab Bruce’s Spider

Mastodon: @RabBrucesSpider1@Mastodon.Scot

Twitter: @RabBrucesSpider

Whether Yessers like it or not, the SNP is still the de facto political arm of the Yes movement. Some might argue that we aren’t going to become a normal, self-governing country as long as Nicola Sturgeon is First Minister, but as things stand, we certainly aren’t going to get independence without the SNP in power.

So the recent announcement about the options now being suggested for the March convention are interesting and important. At the moment, it seems SNP members will be given a choice of whether to stick with the next UK General Election as the de facto Referendum, or whether to wait until the next Scottish elections.

I will make no secret of the fact that I think using the General Election is not the way to go. The only way I would support that is if the SNP decided that a simple majority of elected MPs would be sufficient mandate. I know they are not even considering that, but I still think it could work because it uses Westminster’s own unfair electoral system against it. After all, we’ve had three centuries of Governments elected by a minority of the electorate imposed on us by the First Past The Post system, so why not let Westminster know that we will play by their rules?

But that is, I admit, irrelevant because the SNP seem to have no intention of doing it, sticking instead to the idea that they need to gain over 50% of the popular vote to grant yet another mandate. This, in my view, is very risky. It is almost unheard of for any Party to attain that level of vote in a UK General Election, and the UK voting system means that we will be automatically disenfranchising a large number of people who are likely to vote Yes. EU citizens and anyone in the 16-17 age group is not allowed to vote in a UK General Election. So to use this as your route to independence is, I fear, risking failure.

Which leaves a Scottish election where far more residents of our country are eligible to vote. I think this is still the safest route, as long as the choice of Yes supporting votes is not restricted to the SNP. Votes for the greens or any other explicitly pro-Indy Party must also be counted. If the SNP stick to their stance of saying that only votes for them will count, then they will again be leading us on the road to failure.

The big problem with using the Scottish elections is that they are still a few years away. That gives the Tories far more time to ruin Scotland and destroy our democracy completely. For those hoping Labour will get in at the next UK General Election, I’m afraid I don’t see that making much difference. Sir Keir (Knight of the Realm) Starmer is an ardent Unionist and Brexiteer, so he’s not going to change much at all.

So can we afford to wait until 2026? I don’t think we can, especially as actual independence will not be for another couple of years after that. I honestly don’t think our NHS and other public services can survive that long under Tory aggression.

I do hope the SNP decide to use the Scottish elections as that will provide a far clearer view of the will of the Scottish people, but if they do go for that, then Nicola Sturgeon needs to call an election this year. I’m afraid to say that I don’t think she will do that because, fine politician as she is, she seems determined to postpone our chances of becoming a normal country whenever she can. To say I am dismayed to have reached that conclusion is an understatement, but she has done very little to demonstrate that she is prepared to push really hard for independence sooner rather than later. You can, of course, argue that using the UK General Election would show that she does want an early resolution, but as I mentioned, that is only an early way to losing the vote because of all the restrictions. If she sticks to that, she may kill our chances completely.

I will watch the Convention with interest because whatever they decide could seal the fate of our nation. That’s how critical this is, and I hope that the SNP will create conditions which give us the best possible chance of winning. We’ve tried playing by Westminster rules, and it has got us nowhere. It’s time to change the rules.